Six adorable, daring puppies and their whiz kid leader, ten-year-old Ryder, rescue people in the community of Adventure Bay. You would have to be a fool to not love Paw Patrol. And that’s where the Canadian state broadcaster CBC comes in!
A new article by Rebecca Zandbergen explores the groundbreaking new theory by Canadian university professor Liam Kennedy that loveable Nickelodeon show Paw Patrol is an insidious tool of capitalism. Kennedy, from King’s University College, has penned a vital new piece of research called “Whenever there’s trouble. Just yelp for help”: Crime, Conservation and Corporatization in Paw Patrol” in the peer-reviewed journal Crime Media Culture. His child isn’t allowed to watch the show, but Kennedy spent countless hours watching it in his office.
In the show, Ryder is the ring-leader of the pups, each of whom has a job to do as part of their team. There’s Chase, the police dog, Marshall, the fire chief dog who can never quite get control of his hose, Rubble, the builder, Skye, who flies a plane for some reason and is the girl pup, Everest, the extreme outdoor adventuring pup, Rocky, the rescue dog, and Zuma, the pup who drives a boat.
Together, they are the Paw Patrol, and they even have a headquarters, because all kids love a home base. Inexplicably, the grown-ups in town depend on Ryder and the pups to help them when they’re in a jam. Probably because it’s a show for kids, so it’s kid-centric. Kids like that.
Kennedy posits that “Paw Patrol, as a private corporation, is used to help provide basic social services in the Adventure Bay community. That’s problematic in that the Paw Patrol creators are sending this message that we can’t depend on the state to provide these services.”
Kennedy was angry that elected officials are not portrayed as heroes: “Mayor Humdinger and Mayor Goodway—kind of the representatives of the state or the government—are portrayed negatively,” Kennedy argued.
Kennedy also pointed out that, at the age of ten, Ryder should be in school, not saving the world. CBC did not bother to ask Kennedy how he feels about real-life school-skipper and saviour Greta Thunberg. We guess some do-gooders are more equal than others.
He rails against the Paw Patrol’s message that “no job is too big, no pup is too small.” “To me that’s an individualist message,” Kennedy claimed. “Pull up your bootstraps, you can do it if you just try hard enough. That kind of message ignores structural barriers in our society and not everyone can do it.”
Since Kennedy teaches at a university level and not in early childhood education, he can be forgiven for not realizing that learning about the self is a primary developmental stage for very young children. They have to identify their own bodies and place in their family before they can organize their thoughts to encompass the broader electoral system and its responsibilities. Paw Patrol shows each characters’ differences, without judgement, and young children tend to relate to one over the other, clamouring for character-specific merch.
For Kennedy and the CBC, this is apparently serious business. We can’t have a children’s television show spreading messages that elected officials can be corrupt or incompetent; we can’t have a children’s show that suggests that you can take responsibility for your community instead of foisting it all off on the state; we can’t have a children’s show where individualism and positivity are promoted. This is the way Kennedy sees Paw Patrol through his Marxist goggles.
At its heart, Paw Patrol is about community, forging friendships and bonds that bring you together to tackle tough situations. It’s a show about a network of friends, some of them puppies, who can work as a team to solve local problems. Ryder, Chase, and the other pups, each of whom has their own civil service discipline and associated vehicle (which can be bought separately), have complementary strengths that help them figure out how to cooperatively find solutions. For kids, the lessons learned would be more about being able to velcro their own shoes, or pop the straw through their own juice box, than creating an independent fire brigade because they can’t rely on government help.
Many of the problems on Paw Patrol are the kind of problems that, should a person call emergency services for them, would never be sorted (cats up trees). The state is a large tool that is poorly suited to small problems, and where individuals can work together to sort out their troubles, they should. This leftist penchant for relying on the state for solutions, for assuming that you’re not the one responsible to help your neighbour because someone who has already been delegated for that job is better able to handle it, belies the very notion of community.
Paw Patrol was created by Keith Chapman, who was also the creator of Bob the Builder, another wildly popular children’s television show. His primary intentions were to entertain children, and to teach lessons about teamwork, confidence, and capability. The most important lessons we teach our kids are those that ensure they can take care of themselves and look out for the people they love when they grow up.
If anything, this ragtag collective of pups and a kid who looks after them is a statement on what you can do if you face your fears, count on your friends, and tackle life’s problems together. Chapman also created a show called Fifi and the Flowertots, and there’s no telling how problematic Kennedy would find that.
What stands out most (besides the complete batshittery that is Kennedy’s critical analysis of a harmless kids’ show) is the fact that this basically confirms the widely-held assumption that academia is dead. When a prof spends hours in his office watching pre-school television, there’s a problem with not only what’s being taught but what’s being thought about. Chapman wasn’t going into the writing room for Paw Patrol trying to figure out how to indoctrinate kids into conceiving of themselves as proponents of the capitalist hierarchy, and despite what Kennedy may believe about Chapman’s unconscious bias, this is a ridiculous place to create a system of study.
We’re sure that Kennedy’s woke colleagues applaud this kind of scholarship. After all, we need to dismantle these oppressive children’s shows if we ever hope to establish a brave new world of kids’ television featuring new, “progressive” shows like Bobby and Bureaucracy Buddies and The Snitch Squad.
Don’t do anything for yourself that the government can do for you. That’s the insidious message behind what seems to be, upon first glance, just a silly example of useless university research. It is indeed utterly stupid and laughable, but it is also quite scary when you take a moment to identify the authoritarian impulse behind it all.
We’re sure that Kennedy will have a long and fruitful career explaining to students and colleagues that Blue’s Clues is heterosexist metanarrative about the patriarchy and how Lunar Jim is thinly veiled advocacy for anthropocentric space colonialism. But for those of us who are not insane, it would be nice to see institutions like CBC and King’s College University stop their cultural regression and do much better.